Congratulations! You’ve decided to get a dog, now what kind of dog? Let’s look at how to choose a dog that fits your lifestyle. There are five key areas to look at when looking to add a family member.
How to Choose a Dog: Pure Breed or Mix?
This is a very controversial topic for many reasons. However, it is important to think about when you are looking for a new family member. With a pure-bred dog, you will be more likely to predict their temperament as well as any health issues common with the bred.
When you have a mix it is more difficult, if not impossible, to understand what their temperament and health will be like. While it maybe more desirable to have a mixed breed if you have specific requirements it may not be possible.
How to Choose a Dog: Shelter, Rescue, or Breeder?
In this day and age getting a dog from a breeder can be looked down upon by society. While I don’t disagree that adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter would be ideal. For some people that just isn’t an option. If you have decided to get a pure-bred dog and are looking at breeders make sure to read our “What You Need to Ask Your Breeder” post.
If you are looking for a specific breed, such as a Portuguese Water Dog it is very rare that you find one in the Rescue let alone in a Shelter. There are very few bad breeders in the breed and thus there are less available dogs overall. This is true for many of the pure-bred dogs but not all.
Getting your dog from a Shelter or Rescue isn’t without its own set of problems. You will want to make sure they have done a thorough health check-up as well as any needed vaccinations. A good shelter or rescue will ensure they are placing the dog in the right home. To do this they will have done a temperament test. Don’t hesitate to ask for this, and if they refuse or haven’t performed one you may want to consider looking elsewhere.
How to Choose a Dog: Active or Easy Going?
While there is a range of energy levels in dogs it is important to decide if you are looking for an active or more laid-back dog. If you have small children at home, are frequently gone, and/or live in an apartment having an active Border Collie probably isn’t the right dog for you. On the flip side if you are hiking on weekends, running during the week, and/or looking for a sporting dog getting a Basset Hound might not be the best decision.
If you are looking at a pure-bred dog it is much easier to predict their activity level. When choosing a mix breed you will need to work with the shelter or rescue to understand their assessment of the dog’s activity needs. You can also estimate their exercise needs if you are able to take them on a walk/run. This can be hard if they are traumatized from the shelter or rescue experience so you may need to make some mental adjustments.
Look at your daily activities and the available time you have to exercise your new friend. Also take into consideration the size of space you have available to them when you are gone or hanging out at home. Consider the amount of travel you do and if they will be going with you or staying home. I have two very active dogs at home and they are a handful, be sure you are ready for what you choose.
How to Choose a Dog: Large, Small, or Somewhere in Between?
Along the same vein as the activity level of the dog is the size. There are small breeds that are super active and large breeds that are couch potatoes. Choosing the right size of dog for you is generally a personal preference. I’m under 5 feet tall and would have a hard time handling Mastiff or other large dog. I’m a solid medium size dog person, under 20 inches tall and between 40-65 pounds is my ideal.
Once you know what you like you can start narrowing the pure-bred selections down. If you are looking at mix breed dog it will be hard to pin point their size. Most rescues and shelters do their best to give a good estimate.
How to Choose a Dog: Male or Female?
Gender is also a personal preference. If you are looking at a pure-bred dog I would allow the breeder to place the right dog, regardless of gender, in your home. However, if you have a preference to one or the other let them know. If you have multiple dogs in your home you might find that having all the same gender can be problematic. I decided on a male for my second dog because Miss Millie seemed to do better with male dogs than females. My first dog, Molson, was ok with anyone.
Generally male dogs are more loving than female dogs, but that doesn’t hold true in every breed or even every dog. Males may have more dominance issues as their hormones come in or if they remain altered. Although I’ve know plenty of females that are looking to be the alpha-dog. Male dogs due tend to mark more frequently than females, but that can be managed with training and patience.
Are you bringing home a puppy? Check out our Puppy Series here
Not sure what breed to get? Check out our Best Dogs For series here
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